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Manipur: ITLF seeks Centre’s intervention on internet ban and stoppage of ration to relief centres in Churachandpur

First Published: 27th February, 2024 21:43 IST

ITLF said that the current situation of the state cannot be used as an excuse to deny the people a commodity

The Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF) in Manipur has sought Centre’s intervention on internet ban and stoppage of ration to relief centres in Churachandpur district.

Writing a leter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, ITLF said that the current situation of the state cannot be used as an excuse to deny the people a commodity, which is something that the Supreme Court has defined as a fundamental right under Article 19 of the Constitution.

ITLF said that not a single incident of violence has been reported in the district after internet service was temporarily suspended in the jurisdiction for 5 days by the government follwing the February 15 violence. But despite that the state government has extended the ban twice.

“A “temporary” five-day suspension order was first given by the state government on Feb 16, 2024, following a public protest the previous night over the suspension of a tribal policeman which led to arson and the death of two protesters, who were shot by security personnel. Not a single incident of violence has been reported in the district since the night of the protest, all commercial activities have resumed and all private and government offices are functioning. But despite all these, the state government has extended the ban twice, the latest of which will last till March 2, 2024. This is a blatant form of discrimination where the Meitei-controlled government is conveniently using one incident to collectively punish an entire district for an indefinite period,” ITLF’s letter to HM Shah read.

“Compare this to the increasing scenes of lawlessness in the state capital Imphal, and one cannot but feel that the internet ban in tribal areas is an openly biased decision. In the past two weeks alone, various incidents show the breakdown of law and order in Imphal, but none resulted in an internet ban or even an official reaction from the government,” said ITLF.

It said that despite daily reports of violence and militants freely roaming the streets of the capital with automatic weapons, there is no effort by the government to tackle the breakdown in law and order. But just one incident in a tribal-inhabited area is enough to justify the suspension of the free flow of information.

It further said that relief materials including rice and dal sent by the central government for thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) residing in more than 100 relief camps in Churachandpur have been withheld since the night of the protest on February 15, 2024.

“The Deputy Commissioner has refused to release rations for the past two weeks, putting more than 17,000 IDPs at the risk of starvation. This is another form of discrimination, whereby the DC is punishing people who have already lost their homes by threatening to starve them,” said ITLF.

ITLF requested the central government to urgently intervene so that the supply of rations to relief centres are resumed at the earliest.

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